By some miracle, the original commercials that aired during both the '85 and '86 parades were left intact on the videos. They'll really help you get a better feel for the time, and if you don't believe that, at least you'll get to see burgers that McDonald's no longer makes, and tons of He-Man toys. The '85 parade probably had a better variety of kid stuff, but '86 had some winners, too. Let's go chronologically -- there's thirty commercial downloads in all over the next few pages, so I hope you've got a few spare minutes handy. You've got spare minutes handy, right?
This page consists of the '85 ads. The next page has ads from GUESS WHEN. Each file is between 1-1.5 MB. That's my cue to add another Paypal donation box. Donate thousands -- it's fun!
I never had the Hot Wheels "Crack-Ups Crash Course," but I certainly had my fair share of the Crack-Ups cars. If you've never seen 'em, the best thing I could compare the toys to are those He-Man and Skeletor figures with the rolling degrees of battle damage on their chests. Each car had assorted dents and bruises that'd inconspicuously "flip out" when you bashed them into something. It was a lot more fun than it sounds, believe me. Considering the gimmick, the entire focus of the Crash Course is to give you several ways to bust the Hell out of your toy cars. Pretty boring compared to most other Hot Wheels playsets, but at least this one came with a car. A Crack-Ups car. Yeeeah.
Ah, the McDonald's "McD.L.T." -- who could forget the wonders of the McD.L.T.? Actually, it's nothing too special. Just a burger with lettuce and tomato. Just like always. But! It came in this neat, screenprinted styrofoam container, and if there was ever a reason to sternly choose one garnished burger over another, that container was it. Now that I look at the ad again, it's possible that the burger's selling point was its unique super-thickness. Course, McD's burgers always magically thickened by 700% when it came time for a promotional photo shoot. In any event, McD.L.T. ads were all over the '85 parade -- and it wasn't just the same commercial repeated; there were at least five different spots, and an estimated five beefsteak tomatoes were sacrificed to forge them.
Here's an old Christmas-themed M&Ms commercial -- unless I'm mistaken, this was before they started making those all red and green holiday editions of the candy. I love the reds and greens. This is one of those overly hokey ads, likening a bag of M&Ms to joyful celebrations and Christ. "All the world loves M&Ms." It's true, but it just sounds so pompous coming from M&Ms. To their credit, the commercial includes a shot of melted down milk chocolate dripping from a big spoon. If that doesn't make you want a bag, you just don't like M&Ms at all.
Since She-Ra made her parade debut in 1985, Mattel was sure to get tons of "Princess of Power" toy commercials included. This is my favorite of the batch, advertising the legendary "Crystal Castle." Sort of like the "Castle Grayskull" playset for girls. And only girls. Boys weren't allowed to have Crystal Castles. Unless they were really, really quiet about it. Shhhh. "Gleaming in the morning light...home of She-Ra shining bright! CrystalCassle!!" She-Ra got some catchy tunes in her ads. Instead of the usual cannons and boulders and death traps that you'd find in one of He-Man's playsets, Crystal Castle came with ornamental lamps, fluffy chairs, vanity mirrors and hampers. There was also some kind of elevating throne contraption, and you know it's an important feature because the song becomes three times more pitchy once it hits the screen.
More She-Ra fun -- this time, a closer look at her actual action figure. So pretty. Wait, no -- this was for the Princess Adora action figure. Think "Prince Adam," only female. You could purchase Adora and her pony, and with a quick sleight of hand trick, they'd both transform to their more Grayskull-powered selves, She-Ra and "Swiftwind." When the horse became Swiftwind, it could to speak perfect English. It must've hated switching back to the boring Normal Pony after battles. According to the ad, the "fate of the world's in the hands of a beautiful girl." Oh it's so true, it's so true.
I'm assuming everyone remember the horde of Toys 'R' Us commercials seen in the '84 parade review. There weren't quite as many during the following years, but Geoffrey still popped his head in when appropriate. This time around, the giraffe knows just what to peddle -- lots and lots of Lego toys. Duplo toys, too. Lots of Legos and Duplos. Included is the classic lot of pieces that came inside that plastic storage case, not to mention a Duplo set that came inside a "Duplo Bunny" zippered storage animal. I think I'd like to own a zippered storage animal. The end of the ad notes that local Toys 'R' Us stores were open till midnight -- just another reason to love the Christmas season. If you're a night owl, you can still buy Hungry Hungry Hippos and smell freshly cleaned baby vomit.
Here's "Casey," one of the more famous "learning toys" of the 80s. There were oodles of mini-computers and electronic teaching doodads sold back then -- way more so than today. I remember a time where Toys 'R' Us allocated two entire aisles to such devices, and for my money, Casey was second only to "Speak N' Spell." Course, parents who bought their kids a Casey robot were only kidding themselves with the whole "learning" bit -- we couldn't have cared less about that crap...we just liked the idea of owning a talking robot who, at our beckon, could develop an incredible singing voice. Aside from various button-operated features, the makers of Casey sold tons of cassette tapes that boasted different songs and lessons for the blue robot pal to sing and teach. He doesn't have the same charm as Alphie or Alphie XXVI, but Casey's just so gosh darned cute and bluey. A joke from the robot: "What do you get when you mix two ducks and one cow?" Give up? "QUACKERS AND MILK!" A funny robot is a Christmas miracle! Wait no. Thanksgiving miracle.
Hey now, I know this one. It's the Masters of the Universe "Battle Bones" toy -- a way to keep your figures safely tucked away and have them transported around on dead animal remains. The toy was sold on the merits of being a case for the toys -- you stuck your figures on Battle Bones' ribs to make sure you didn't lose 'em. All weapons and accessories could be neatly tucked away in the creature's mouth. I doubt this was the most popular He-Man toy, but it's the only one that was definitely dead. Also of note: Battle Bones could be used appropriately by either the heroes or villains, so you had plenty of options. The beasts were neither good nor evil. They were just dead. Dead Battle Bones. From Mattel.
See? I told you -- lots and lots of electronic learning toys back then. Here's the "Talk 'N Play." Advertised as being a talking toy "full of friends," the varied games and puzzles were all voiced by familiar Sesame Street characters. Evidently, it's the toy parents bought for kids who had no friends. If you had a Talk 'N Play, you had no friends. All I really remember about these things were their ridiculously high retail prices -- things like this cost way less today. Big Bird you so greedy.
From someplace terrible, here's a McDonald's commercial with some terribly grating children, some cross-eyed, discussing the awful presents they're sure to receive from Aunt Martha, and how they'll still have to say "thank you" no matter how much the gifts suck. Older Sister advises Younger Brother to picture an ice cream sundae to make the thanking words trickle out, and wouldn't you know it...the ended up getting McDonald's gift certificates! Younger Brother considers them ice cream sundaes, likely because you can buy ice cream sundaes with a McD's gift certificate. I hope that's the reason. If it's not, Younger Brother is just crazy and deadly. For the kids part, they manage to pull all sorts of excitement and intrigue from their asses upon receipt of the gift certificates, as if any kid on the planet would've been satisfied with that kind of Christmas present. There's definitely times when these certificates were welcome, but instead of a new toy? On Christmas? No way. Ronald is a liar. A big stupid liar. And Grimace? He's a big purple thing.
Mary Hart introduces the "Gloworm." Mary Hart introduces the Gloworm?! Why is Mary Hart introducing Gloworms?! This ad, specifically for "Musical Gloworm," advertises the toy as a great way for fraidy cat kids to sleep with the lights off. By the way, I sometimes get e-mails from people trying to reclaim lost glories by buying an old Gloworm doll. No need -- they're back in retail stores, and they're only ten bucks. Work just the same, too. I've given them to every one of my siblings' combined 500 children, and almost 50% of the kids seemed happy to receive them. The other half either spit up or told me they were too old for Gloworm. If they're too old for Gloworm, I'm in some real trouble. You can read an old X-E article about "Glo Friends" action figures by going and mousing and clicking here.
Yes! The Fright Zone! Vastly underrated He-Man toy! Hordak's house! IT CAME WITH A KILLER PUPPET! I absolutely loved this thing -- it was small in stature when compared to Castle Grayskull or Snake Mountain, but it was chock full of spooky features and really felt like the kind of place where evil shit went down. God oh God did I love this playset. Even the commercial was one of the best Masters of the Universe had to offer. You had a bunch of kids talking all evil-like, while an unseen narrator screams "THE FRIGHT ZONE! THE FRIGHT ZONE!" over and over again. We get to see all of the playset's starring features -- the clasping tree, the prison chamber, and yes...the puppet. That puppet was one of the greatest toys I've ever had. It ate so many action figures. It kept my hand consistently sweaty for months. Though smaller than the other MOTU playsets, the Fright Zone was also far cheaper. Good for lower class kids who couldn't afford the Golden Grayskull. I've done an article on this one, too -- click here to check it out.
You might remember these kinds of NBC sitcom teasers from the '84 review. They used the same template for years. This time around, we see clips from upcoming "The Facts of Life" and "Gimme a Break" episodes. I never got too into the latter show, but sue me, I loved "The Facts of Life." Always preferred Jo to Blair, because I'm a rebel. The commercial is for one of the later "Facts" seasons, where Ms. Garrett went away to Cairo and Beverly stunk up the place. Mackenzie Austin was part of the cast by then, so all five fans of "Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie" had a reason to watch.
Here's another Toys 'R' Us ad -- they weren't promoting any toys in particular...just the store in general. You'll probably remember it while watching the clip; this classic ad was rerun for at least five years. Geoffrey leads a troop of kids (and adults) through a magical land of generic, nameless toys. They sing songs. They play. They have a good time. Then, they die. Honorably.
The "Hot Wheels Railroad" blows away the previously mentioned "Crash Course." This thing was huge, and it...had...trains. Picture a Lionel set with more durable pieces, and that's what you're getting. I never had it, but it looks like fun. Then again, pomegranates look like a party on television. Maybe it sucked. You know, it probably did suck. It doesn't run on electricity, but rather "imagination." That's a subversive way for Hot Wheels to explain that the railroad doesn't really do anything. On the plus side, aside from the trains, there were specific roads and action features intended for use with the regular Hot Wheels cars. So what if it wasn't motorized? Motors are overrated.
Yeah yeah Baby Brite. Yeah yeah Rainbow Brite's baby pal with strawberry blonde hair and shiny clothes. Yeah yeah it's late and it's Thanksgiving and I have to be on the road in like six hours. Yeah yeah yeah yeah.
The Cabbage Patch Kids had a show pony, because it's the next best thing for children who always wanted a real pony. Parents finally had an escape clause. Most children who owned a Cabbage Patch Kid would've sworn up and down that the dolls were real people. By this logic, the show pony doll was a real pony. Take that brats. You talked yourselves into a corner. Now stay there and think about what you've done.
Here's the last Toys 'R' Us commercial from '85, this time celebrating all of the new "Wuzzles" figures. Love them Wuzzles. Wrote about them Wuzzles, too. For those who don't remember, Wuzzles were stuffed animals that crossbred two different species. You had elephant-bunnies, lion-bees, and all sorts of wacky hybrid mutant fun. Aside from the usual plush dolls, we also get a quick look at the then-new line of Wuzzles action figures. They cost less, but you couldn't knife a hole in their ass and fuck them.
Did I mention that it's Thanksgiving morning as I write this? Well, technically. It's 2:30 AM. I've gotta be up, dressed, and in Jersey in twelve hours. And I've still got another page of commercials to get through. I've ruined my holiday with Casey the Robot and Pat Sajak on fire. I've done this not for you, but because it's easier to talk about toys than prepare stuffed mushrooms for thirty people who I'm not even related to by blood. From now on, only blood will have my magic mushrooms. Blood and Kamala, if I ever meet him.
That's all for 1985 -- there's ten more commercials to check out from '86 on the next and final page. After we're done, I'm going to collapse in front of the monitor and pretend it's already Friday. I think I'm going to start doing that on every Wednesday night from now on. No real reason, it just feels right.